Looking ahead, "change" was still the top quality voters sought, as in Iowa; and Obama still owned it. Fifty-four percent said they were most interested in a candidate who can "bring about needed change" -- the top attribute by a wide margin -- and they favored Obama over Clinton by 55-28 percent. Clinton's pushback on change clearly did not cut.
However, Clinton came back even more overwhelmingly among the two in 10 who cared most about experience, with 71 percent to Obama's 5. And, as in Iowa, Obama showed vulnerability on empathy; among people looking mainly for the candidate who "cares most about people like me," he got only 19 percent support, while Edwards and Clinton were almost even at 37 and 41 percent, respectively. (Edwards had dominated among "empathy" voters in Iowa, rather than splitting them with Clinton here.)
The generation gap was more narrowly focused in New Hampshire than it was in Iowa. Obama won by a vast 60-22 percent among the very youngest voters, under 25 years old, but that subsided to a dead heat among those age 25-29; in Iowa he won both those groups overwhelmingly. At the other end of the spectrum, Clinton won by 16 points among seniors -- thanks, as noted, to senior women.
Clinton led among those who chose a candidate early, while Obama's support was greatest -- 43 percent to Clinton's 28 percent - among people who decided which candidate to support sometime last week. Clinton became somewhat more competitive among those who decided more recently.
Obama experienced a sharp rise in stature in the state: Forty-four percent of Democratic voters picked him as the candidate who has the best chance to win the general election in November, vs. 35 percent who called Clinton the most electable. That compares to an ABC News/Washington Post poll a month ago in which far more likely voters called Clinton the most electable -- 54 percent, vs. 22 percent for Obama.
Obama also pulled even with Clinton in ratings of who is the strongest leader; 35 percent of Democratic voters chose Obama, compared to 38 percent who named Clinton. In his strongest suit, Obama was the overwhelming choice for the candidate who would do the most to unite the country, 51 to 28 percent.
Clinton, on the other hand, was chosen by more voters as the candidate who was most qualified to be the commander in chief.
REPS -- Moderates and independents carried McCain to victory. Moderates (just over a third of voters) went overwhelmingly for McCain, 44-27 percent; he also won liberal Republicans, who are somewhat more numerous in New Hampshire than elsewhere (11 percent of voters). Among conservatives, by contrast Romney won, 38-30 percent. A majority of all GOP voters -- 55 percent -- identified themselves as conservative.
McCain won independents by 13 points over Romney, 40-27 percent, while the two men split mainline Republicans about evenly, 35-34 percent. In Iowa McCain claimed only 12 percent of the Republican vote and a quarter of independents, who comprised only 13 percent of GOP caucus attenders.
McCain won New Hampshire in 2000, also on the strength of support from independents. The question again is whether he can expand his support in states where fewer of them turn out.